Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Colleges See Growth Opportunity in Hispanic Students

Appalachian colleges are looking at a shrinking white population from which to draw students in the years to come. So, the Hechinger Report writes that they are trying to attract students from the growing Latino population. 

The article reports that Tennessee’s Hispanic population grew by 134 percent between 2000 and 2010. However, few have college degrees. 

So administrators at Maryville College are seeking to attract more Latinos. They have a long way to go. Out of 1,168 students enrolled, only 27 are Latino. But the college has launched the Villamaria initiative, holding events to attract Latinos and creating a Latino Student Alliance.

The Appalachian College Association awarded Maryville a grant last year to assist it with increasing Hispanic enrollment. Among other efforts at promoting inclusiveness, Maryville has hired a Spanish professor and students created and distributed a Hispanic Oral Histories of East Tennessee newsletter to distribute in nearby counties. They sought to tell the stories of Latino immigrants to Tennessee.

According to the Hechinger article, the admissions office also bought a list of Hispanic students who took the SAT and live within 500 miles of campus. Administrators are also studying providing scholarships to students who are undocumented immigrants.

It should be interesting to see how successful the college is over the next few years, given the small Latino enrollment that it currently has. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of 2012 only about 4.8 percent of Tennessee residents were Latino compared with about 16.9 percent of the country.